Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Throne of Atlantis: Aquaman's Reboot

Are you a comic book purist? You might not be happy, but give this post a chance. Do you enjoy good stories and/or respect Aquaman as a hero? Then this movie is perfect for you. Throne of Atlantis is an adaptation of a comic written by Geoff Johns with art by Ivan Reis and Paul Pelletier. In the comic book, Aquaman is already a full fledged member of the Justice League and is forced to pick sides between his adopted home, the surface world, and his Kingdom, Atlantis. For the record, the cinematic version of Throne of Atlantis is loosely based on Johns' story line. For the first time since our grandparents picked up a comic book, Aquaman is given a reboot, and it was given to us via straight-to-DVD .

Top 3 Reasons why comic readers and non readers laugh at Aquaman.

Would you believe me if I told you that these complaints are practically voided after viewing Justice League: Throne of Atlantis? 

The purpose of this discussion is not to analyze the animation or the voice-overs. Instead, my job is to give you the good, the bad, and the awesomeness of a first-time Aquaman-centric movie. Of course, you have lots of great fight choreography and at times it feels like a multi-episode arc. Much to my surprise, the movie barely focuses on DC's Trinity. Excluding the exploration of Aquaman, the budding bromance between Shazam and Cyborg is on point. The purpose of their bromance is to tackle Cyborg's inability to comprehend his opportunities to live a normal life. Also, a majority of heroes accept their roles without question. Even Aquaman's acceptance on the team seemed too clean and their lack of strategy in attacks against Orm were amateur at best. Are they positive that Aquaman no longer has a drinking problem? Enough of my nitpicking. Let's get our hands dirty with the Aquaman reboot. 

Even though Aquaman's New 52 title helped rejuvenate Aquaman's legitimacy in T.O.A., it did much more than that. It gave us a clear reboot of the character. The type of reboot that gets a new audience excited and intrigued. In this movie, we get a different Aquaman. Prior to putting on the King's sacred attire, Arthur Curry (Aquman's surface identity) is a lonely drunk that has mommy issues. Unlike any Aquaman story before, we find him at his lowest. He's downing beers, starting fights with other drunks, but only to find out that he has a destiny. For a long time, the fans used to mock Aquaman for talking to fish, but there is a scene in the film that involves a shark and a very large bite. In the end, haters are gonna hate, but some might change their point of view after a view or two of T.O.A.

By the way, I'm intrigued with DC's usage of Aquaman's mom. A character that never has a purpose is now getting a huge push by the company. From what I can remember she has been dead since the beginning. Once it was public knowledge that she had a legitimate role in this movie it turned out that her role was going to expand in the comic book universe. In the comic book, her role is quite the opposite because she is hunting the son she never met. 

Besides the movie, the DVD had a set of great special features. Two of them involved the Bat-verse. One is an awesome deleted section of the script between Robin and Nightwing. It's a loose thread from Batman's investigation, but also a sneak peek at the next DCAU's movie, Batman vs Robin. Once again, WB is taking a story from New 52 and adapting it. This time they're using Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Court of Owls. Once again, I want to use the phrase: loosely adapted. 

Maybe because I'm a history nerd, but my favorite feature is "From the DC Comics Vault." Unlike Al Capone's Vault, DC's Vault is full of goodies. It has two episodes of Batman: The Brave and Bold and everyone's favorite animated show from the early 2000s, Justice League Unlimited. Oddly enough, that episode had NOTHING to do with Aquaman. Those episodes were great, but they have nothing on the greatest secret treasure of all, 1960's Aquaman cartoon.  'Nuff said on that. 

P.S. Stay for after the credits.

Written by: Phillip Butehorn 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bell to Bell: The People vs. Roman Reigns

Wow. So much to talk about. Roman Reigns, The Rock, Daniel Bryan…

Well, it happened. Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble match. Not exactly a surprise, as experts and “smarks” have been predicting Lesnar vs. Reigns for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania XXXI for about a year now. And for awhile, a lot of us were open to the idea. Roman Reigns is a fresh face, he’s got a good look, and if he’s written well, he can actually be a pretty cool character.

So how did we find ourselves watching a repeat performance of last year’s disastrous Rumble match? How ironic that this year Reigns heard a deafening chorus of boos, whereas last year he heard cheers as the runner up…

Point blank: What do wrestling fans have against Roman Reigns?

I won’t presume to speak for the internet wrestling community at large. The fact is, there’s a certain fickle demographic that’s simply going to boo whoever WWE decides to push, just out of spite. I call them “wrestling hipsters.” Still, the fans at large aren’t wrong to push back against Reigns. There are several issues at play here. So let’s comb through them…

1. The Respect Factor

I’m seeing a lot of “Roman Reigns doesn’t deserve this” on Twitter. As something of a “smark” myself, I’d like to clarify this statement.

No one speaking from a place of logic is denying Roman Reigns has talent, or the potential to be a big star. Under the right circumstances, he could be exactly what WWE wants him to be: A huge star.

Unfortunately, he’s not exactly the fans’ first choice.

Due to injury, Daniel Bryan didn’t hold on to the WWE Championship for very long last year. So the fans seem to want him to have another go-around. Also, Bryan is an easy guy to respect. He’s a masterful in-ring technician who’s put more than 15 years into the business. He’s also a genuinely likeable guy, who has a great underdog quality about him.

There’s also Dean Ambrose, who’s currently one of WWE’s most compelling on-screen characters. You never quite know what he’s going to do or say when he goes out there. He’s also given us some great matches in recent months with the likes of Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt. The fans are into Ambrose, and for good reason.

And then there’s Dolph Ziggler, a work horse who consistently delivers awesome matches with a variety of opponents. He’s also underrated on the mic, and in my view hasn’t really been given the chance to shine in that respect yet. He doesn’t seem to be the office’s favorite though, and has frequently suffered losses tinged with political venom. But the fans continue to love him because he always makes it back to the top. He refuses to quit.

Had any of these men won the Rumble, the building would have erupted. Why? Because the fans respect the years they’ve put into the business, the multitude of talents they’ve acquired, and the heart they put into what they do.

Instead, the victory went to Reigns. Let’s not question his heart, but Reigns hasn’t even been in the business five years, and only pursued it after his football career went south. While he’s got some great intensity in the ring, he’s nowhere near as well rounded as some of his peers.

On that note…

2. The Verbal Debate

Roman Reigns is simply not a good promo. He could be, but he isn’t, because WWE is seemingly trying to cast him in a role that appeals to adults and children simultaneously. They’ve had him doing long, drawn out promos complete with bad Cena-esque comedy.

Does Roman Reigns look like a comedian to you?

In The Shield, Reigns was the guy who stood there and looked menacing while Ambrose and Rollins did the talking, occasionally adding a brief line or two. Why should his demeanor as a singles star be any different?

I understand WWE wants their marquee stars to go on talk shows and act in movies. But forcing this man to recite stale, out-of-character dialogue just doesn’t make sense, and it weakens him fundamentally.

Whether this is fair or not, I sometimes like to compare Roman Reigns to The Undertaker during the first few years of his run. The Undertaker never said much. Yes, he had a mouthpiece. But when he talked, it meant something. Eventually, he seemed to get more comfortable speaking, and became a great talker. You can apply the same principle to Reigns, even without a mouthpiece or a manager. Let him become a star first, then worry about the publicity side of things. Otherwise, you’re putting the cart before the horse.

3. Poor timing and execution.

Philadelpha was not the place to have Reigns win the Royal Rumble. This was the city that gave birth to ECW. They’re programmed to chew up WWE archetypes and spit them out. Reigns was doomed before he even walked out there.

Also, eliminating Daniel Bryan so early was a huge buzzkill, and it took the fans completely out of the match. It more or less confirmed that WWE was going to give the match to Reigns, and gave his detractors plenty of time to sit on their hands and boo.

The decision to put him in there with Big Show and Kane at the end was also a head scratcher. Yes, I understand the idea was to make Reigns look strong by putting him against two giants. And indeed, he has been feuding with Big Show in recent weeks. But how about mixing substituting Kane with a couple of younger talents? Bad News Barrett was in there. So was Cesaro.  Why not give them some main event time?

And then there’s The Rock. WWE brought him in not to be a surprise entrant in the Rumble match, not to follow up on his Raw segment with Rusev and Lana, but for the express purpose of giving Reigns the rub. Of saying: “I’m The Rock, and I approve of this man’s push.” Oh, and beating up The Big Show and Kane. Because he’s never done that before…

Putting Reigns next to The Rock only served to remind us that he’s not the star we need him to be. In that moment, who did you care about more? That guy WWE has been cramming down our throats for two months, or the icon who’s provided us with countless hours of entertainment over the last two decades? Putting a big star in there to endorse someone has no effect if the audience doesn’t believe in them. For instance, imagine Stone Cold Steve Austin getting in the ring to endorse Adam Rose as the next big superstar. It’s the same principle.

4. Silver Linings.

*whew* Okay. Get all that? Now let’s move on to the positives. There are a couple of silver linings here, after all.

Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Seth Rollins Gave us one hell of a WWE Championship match. And we now have a champion who looks incredibly strong, and ready for Wrestlemania. So at the very least, Reigns will have a strong opponent to go against.

Also, let’s take some solace in the fact that WWE is at least pushing someone new. Last year it was Batista, who hadn’t wrestled in about four years, and was past his prime.

Finally, let’s not forget that after the tremendous pressure WWE put the fans under last year, they were forced to change their plans. Could it happen again? Not likely. But let’s not rule it out.

And at the very least, it’s only pro wrestling, folks. It’s only pro wrestling…

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Biggest Comic Book Comeback of 2015 is.......Lady Death

There are very few emails that make my jaw drop. This week, I received such an email from the creator of Lady Death, Brian Pulido. Brian Pulido has something HUGE to tell you.  

Welcome back, Lady Death. You've been missed. 

***Official Press Release***

All new original graphic novel – Creator Pulido’s first in a decade!

Coffin Comics announced today that a brand new Lady Death story entitled Chaos! Rules will debut in 2015 as creator Brian Pulido’s first original story to be independently published in over a decade. An exclusive Kickstarter campaign for this project will be launched on February 4, 2015.

Lady Death: Chaos Rules, published by Coffin Comics, is a 48-page square bound original graphic novel written by Brian Pulido, co-written by Eisner award winner Brian Augustyn. It features interior penciling by Dheeraj Verma (Transformers) and color art by Sabine Rich (Ancient Dreams).

Story: Awakened from a spell-induced slumber, Lady Death is out to exact bloody vengeance. Who among her depraved enemies is responsible for robbing the last two decades of her existence? Let the hunt begin! Featuring the alluring and cruel diva of death as only creator Brian Pulido can write her. Chock full of sex, violence, epic clashes and very, very bad behavior.

“If you haven’t read Lady Death in a while, I cordially invited you to get Chaos Rules,” says Lady Death creator Brian Pulido. “This is a wild quest chock full of twists, turns and surprises. It is a vision of Hell never seen before in a Lady Death comic and it is ground zero for all the new Lady Death stories to come from my fevered mind – and with Kickstarter, there is no one between you and me!”

Experience the most authentic Lady Death comic since 2002! Stay tuned for more preview art, interviews with the creative team, Kickstarter reward artist announcements and much, much more! Did we say much more? Yeah, much more!

Lady Death was created by Brian Pulido and debuted in Evil Ernie #1 in 1991. The first Lady Death solo series debuted in 1992. Since then, Lady Death has appeared in over 100 comics in eight languages, selling over 20 million copies worldwide.

Coffin Comics is the new permanent home of Lady Death.

For more information, please visit www.LadyDeathUniverse.com.

Batman & Robin #38: Back to Basics

TITLE: Batman & Robin #38
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
PENCILLER: Patrick Gleason
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: January 21, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Whew… It’s finally over.

Almost two years after the needless and silly death of yet another Robin, which ultimately served to make Batman look more negligent and foolish than anything else (but that’s another story), Batman & Robin is finally back on track. Bruce and Damian Wayne are back together as the Dynamic Duo. And what’s more, Damian has superpowers.

Indeed, moments after his resurrection, Damian and his surrogate family discovered that the Boy Wonder had developed super powers. Robin can now fly, and is also equipped with super strength. Thus Damian, who was nearly too much for Batman to handle from the start, is now potentially even more of a loose cannon. In Batman & Robin #38, Damian seeks to correct one of the many horrid acts committed by the al Ghul family using his DNA. And even Batman can only watch from afar.

Batman & Robin #38 allows Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason to finally get back to basics, and resume doing what they’ve always done best in this book: Examining the dynamic between Bruce and Damian, father and son, Batman and Robin. To say the least Bruce is an unconventional father, who has some mommy and daddy issues in his own right. But through his son, he’s now able to see both himself and his parents in a new light (see Batman & Robin, Vol. 1: Born to Kill). Meanwhile, Damian not only has to adjust to having a father, but to living under Bruce’s code and keeping his violent tendencies in check. This unique relationship has made Batman & Robin one of the more compelling Bat-books on the stands since the start of the New 52. At times, it’s even been better than what the almighty Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been producing.

Tomasi & Gleason give Damian a nice, and perfectly fitting recklessness in this issue, as he dives headfirst into a flurry of bullets. Then, as he tries to fly away, Batman simply grips him by his shoelaces and says: “Feet on the ground. Now.” That’s a great little moment. Even when Damian has superpowers, he’s still beholden to his father.

We also see Damian try to wrap his mind around the fact that he was indeed dead, which results in a dream sequence that allows Gleason to get his spooky on. It’s not the fright-fest that the Death of the Family issues were. But it’s fun to see Gleason revisit this kind of thing.

Close to the end of the issue, there’s also a heart-wrenching shot of Damian, face-to-face with one of his deformed clones. The expression on the clone’s face makes this one of the more memorable images in the entire series.

Batman & Robin #38 is a breath of fresh air, and a return to something a little less on the moody and broody side. Part of the fun of Robin is that he exposes parts of Batman’s humanity that we might not have seen otherwise. He’s not just a detective. He’s not just a crime fighter. He’s also a father and a mentor. It’s good to have that Batman back again.

Written by: Rob Siebert

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bell to Bell: Seth Rollins Out-Heels Brock Lesnar. Also: Hi Sting!

Last week, I mentioned that Seth Rollins was likely added to the title match at the Royal Rumble because WWE couldn’t pull off another big money Lesnar vs. Cena match. To WWE’s credit, Rollins has helped make this a must-see match, one that’s almost as hotly anticipated as the Rumble match (at least in my mind). But it’s also exposed a big flaw on the creative side of things: Brock Lesnar isn’t a true heel. At least not anymore.

Jim Ross has talked about this sort of thing on The Ross Report numerous times, but let’s go through some of it again. Seth Rollins cheats to win, is cowardly at times, and has The Authority break the rules for him. Brock Lesnar is simply a tough guy who brutalizes his opponents. In the world of wrestling, that’s an endearing quality. He’s also been known to beat up John Cena a lot, which tends to make him even more endearing.

The one thing that Brock Lesnar had going for him that really made him a bad guy was that he ended The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. But even then, he won cleanly.

When Brock came out at the top of the show this week, I was ready to boo him. But again, he was just a tough guy looking for a fight. Again, not a bad thing. And at the end of this show, he beat everybody up! Again, not a bad thing!

While this match is very interesting, Seth Rollins has monopolized the heat. Brock is essentially just the guy who happens to have the belt. If the plan is still to have Brock go into Wrestlemania as WWE Champion, that’s not a good thing, and the match at the Royal Rumble needs to heat Brock up again big time.

John Cena def. Seth Rollins, The Big Show & Kane, with help from Sting. Handicap match main events are lame, but Sting’s first Raw appearance obviously put a hell of an exclamation point on this one. I’m liking that Sting hasn’t said anything yet. His mere presence is enough to send the bad guys into a frenzy. And when he shows up, justice is done. Great Raw debut for “The Vigilante.”

And of course, because Cena won, Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan can come back to TV now, which we knew they would.

WWE allows fans to vote on whether Cena should be allowed to compete for the jobs of Dolph Ziggler, Ryback and Erick Rowan. I never understand why they do this. WWE creates the illusion of fan participation by giving fans a “choice,” when there’s an obvious choice. So why even bother doing the poll? To get traffic for the app, I guess. But wouldn’t it be more interesting if they actually gave fans the opportunity to change the show? I’d certainly be more inclined to participate if I didn’t already know the outcome…

The Ascension are brutalized by tag teams of the past. I can’t even tell you how amazing it is to see Scott Hall on Raw, looking the way he does. There were years when I didn’t know how long this guy was going to be alive, much less as healthy as he is now.

I’m happy to see The Ascension are facing the New Age Outlaws at the Royal Rumble, and that this segment didn’t kill them off. They’ve got some great heat going, and it’d be a shame to squash them.

Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, and Ric Flair do another “Legends Panel.” This one worked better than the last one, most likely because they had more elements to talk about, and could draw on their own experience. Curiously though, when they were asked about their picks for the Rumble match, no one picked Roman Reigns…of course, then the segment ended with him. The upside? At least he didn’t talk this week.

Bray Wyatt def. Daniel Bryan WWE certainly wasted no time putting Daniel Bryan to work, which I can’t complain about. We spent most of 2014 missing him. So seeing him genuinely feels like a treat. I was really surprised to see him lose so soon after his return. I suppose WWE really is trying to make Bray Wyatt look as strong as possible. Maybe those Undertaker/Wrestlemania rumors are true. Thankfully, Bryan looks awesome in the ring as always. He sold his surgically repaired neck well. And hot damn, that frankensteiner!

Dean Ambrose def. Bad News Barrett. Hey! Ambrose won a match! Though it may not matter anyway, as Ambrose is living proof of the adage that you can win and lose at the same time in pro wrestling. Ambrose has spent much of the last several months jobbing to Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt, and yet the crowd was still really into him this week. Will Ambrose win the Rumble? Probably not. But it’d make for some damn interesting TV heading into Wrestlemania, that’s for sure.

The New Day def. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd. This match was much better than The New Day’s hokey entrance might have led you to believe. The loss notwithstanding, you can definitely tell Cesasro and Kidd have been brainstorming together. I love the little charismatic moments Kidd injected into the match, i.e. checking his “watch” during Cesaro’s hanging vertical suplex. 

Written by: Rob Siebert

Monday, January 19, 2015

Star Wars Returns.......Again.

TITLE: Star Wars #1
AUTHOR: Jason Aaron
PENCILLER: John Cassaday
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: January 14, 2015

Seeing the Star Wars comic book license go back to Marvel was extremely bittersweet for yours truly. Dark Horse had more than done right by everybody’s favorite galaxy far, far away. Particularly in the last year and a half or so, when Brian Wood was penning a title simply called Star Wars, something of a throwback series featuring the classic characters we all know and love. It was the same thing, in essence, that this book is doing.

But while Marvel has no shortage of A-list creators at its disposal, and is undoubtedly capable of providing us quality books, the company’s first crack at Star Wars in the 21st century leaves something to be desired in the realm of depth and logic.

Star Wars #1 brings Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2 to the Empire’s largest weapons factory, with the intent to infiltrate and destroy. But little to they know that Darth Vader himself is very near, and he’ll soon come face-to-face with the young rebel who destroyed the Death Star….

On paper, it’s a simple but effective way to kick off a Star Wars series. Stick all your main characters in the middle of an Imperial hotspot, and have them fight their way out. Just like they did on the Death Star, just like the did at Cloud City, just like they did on Endor, etc. Using this formula definitely helps capture the classic Star Wars feel they’re looking for.

Another crucial element in this respect is the issue’s four-page replication of the Star Wars opening title crawl. We’ve got a page dedicated entirely to “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” a two-page spread of the big Star Wars flash, and on the fourth page the issue gets its own title crawl. Then, in typical Star Wars movie fashion, we go to empty space, and a ship flies into frame. If you’re a Star Wars geek, they’ve easily got you at this point. And low and behold the first hero we see is Han Solo, doing his witty Han Solo stuff!

But the biggest selling point of this issue by far is seeing John Cassaday draw Star Wars stuff. I once read his artistic style described as “instantly iconic,” and that’s certainly the case here. He’s got a great handle on the likenesses of ‘70s Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. His Mark Hamill isn’t perfect, but that’s forgivable. Hell, the man’s face literally changed between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. And unlike other artists who’ve done these characters, Cassaday’s take on the Darth Vader death mask and C-3PO’s ever-distinguishable headcover remain frozen and consistent throughout the issue. Elements from all three classic films are incorporated into this issue, and if I were a betting man, I’d say Cassaday had fun with this one.

All this said, this issue lacks a lot of the depth and heart that made Brian Wood’s stuff so good. It relies on spectacle over substance. Case in point, Luke’s use of the lightsaber. Yes, we all love lightsabers, but I’m a firm subscriber to the Harry S. Plinkett philosophy on their overuse, and how they can sometimes be a sign of lazy or bad writing.

In Star Wars #1 we see Luke use the lightsaber to fight off a guy with a laser-whip weapon. Shortly after cheaply paraphrasing a line from A New Hope, an off-panel fight ensues, during which all we see is the lightsaber swinging for two panels. A splash page of Luke soon follows, the ignited weapon in his hand. We also see Vader use his lightsaber later, though only for an instant.

This is where I get a bit nitpicky: How proficient was Luke with the lightsaber at this point? It’s heavily implied that this issue takes place shortly after the Death Star was destroyed. So Luke’s knowledge about his heritage and the Jedi ways, much less this new weapon (which he didn’t even use in A New Hope) are still rather limited. And yet he’s able to dispose of this guard pretty quickly.

My proposed solution? Give us a little more action by extending this scene a page. Have this guard with the whip get the better of Luke at first. But in the end, he perseveres and wins. This gives our young hero a small victory, and we also get a sense that he’s grown a bit in experience, but is still nowhere near where he wants to be.

An extra page for the scene with Luke might have eliminated the completely contrived and ridiculous one in which we see Leia question Han’s motivation for helping the rebels. In the middle of the Empire’s largest weapons factory, on a mission that’s rather time-sensitive, Leia stops to thank Han for his contribution, and ask him why he’d publicly associate himself with the Rebel Alliance. She literally asks: “What is it you really want, Han Solo?” At this point, even Han himself says: “Maybe now’s not really the best time…”

Also, why is Leia even on this mission? Why is one of the Rebellions’ top leaders being sent into the middle of enemy territory? Hell, they don’t even keep her in the Millenium Falcon with Threepio. She’s directly in the line of fire. From a creative standpoint, it’s obviously so we can have our three main heroes together. But logistically, it makes no sense. Couldn’t they have found somebody else to toss into this mess?

At the very least, Star Wars #1 is pretty. But it’s also frustrating. Look, we all love that classic Star Wars stuff. Darth Vader, lightsabers, the big title crawl, etc. But imagery from the classic trilogy can’t be the only thing your issue has going for it, or it’ll fall flat. Especially considering this is the first Star Wars issue Marvel has published in decades! C’mon, guys. You can do better than this.

Written by: Rob Siebert

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Farkle is Gay…and That’s Okay!

I can’t be the only grown man watching Girl Meets World on the Disney Channel, right…? Right?

Aw c’mon…it’s got nostalgia appeal! It’s the sequel to Boy Meets World. It’s Corey and Topanga back together! And they just brought Shawn back! Oh fine, judge me.

In any event, Girl Meets World is the latest hit for the Disney Channel. As many ‘90s kids know by now, it’s about Riley Matthews, the daughter of Corey Matthews, (the main character from Boy Meets World), and her friends,as they deal with junior high problems, etc. Essentially, it’s the same formula as the old series, but GMW has an obvious legacy element to it. Characters from BMW have been known to pop up, including Stuart Minkus, the nerdy blonde kid from BMW’s first season.

And wouldn’t you know it, our ol’ buddy Minkis has a son on Girl Meets World. Farkle Minkus, played by young Corey Fogelmanis, is a short and skinny character who doesn’t let his small stature contain his massive intelligence, or his quirky personality. He’s an extremely flamboyant character, who even has Dr. Evil-ish ambitions of conquering the world. Fogelmanis is a very likeable actor, and his performances tend to be among the highlights of the average GMW episode.

Like BMW, GMW has a flare for goofy comedy, much of which Farkle provides. But there’s always plenty of heart underneath the comedy. Almost every episode has a moral or a lesson about family, friendship, growing up, etc. As such, Disney and Girl Meets World have a really interesting and wonderful opportunity with this Farkle character…

GMW has positioned Farkle in sort of a modern day Steve Urkel role. He’s super intelligent, provides comic relief, and is a friend to the other characters. He’s talked about liking both Riley and her best friend Maya. But at the moment, he’s not a romantic interest for either of them.

Farkle also tends to call for very big, flamboyant performances from Fogelmanis. The nature of these performances have sparked various questions and theories from GMW fans about Farkle’s sexuality.

“Could Farkle be gay?”
“Farkle = Probably gay.”
“Farkle is obviously gay, right?”

At the risk of sounding creepy, I’ve had those same suspicions about Farkle. And to be clear, this is strictly about the character, not Fogelmanis. I can’t necessarily point to one specific thing about Farkle that sparked my suspicion. It just sort of happened. 

Interestingly enough, the Disney Channel recently set a precedent (albeit a mild one) for gay characters on the network. Last year an episode of Good Luck Charlie revealed that a character had two lesbian mothers.

There’s been nothing on Girl Meets World that directly suggests Farkle is gay, or could even be pondering such things. But that doesn’t change the fact that Disney has an awesome opportunity here. They’ll ruffle some feathers, to be sure. But they can also do something they’ve never done before, and do it on a show with more eyes on it that your average series for young people. What’s more, GMW is a show that lends itself to this kind of talk about self discovery and growing up.

So I say let’s do it! Let’s make Farkle the Disney Channel’s first gay teenager.

It wouldn’t need to be over-sensationalized (believe me, the media would provide more than enough sensation). All we really need is one episode…

The show has already established that Farkle gets bullied sometimes. So let’s lead in with that. Let’s have Farkle getting teased about allegedly being gay. Of course, Riley, Maya, Lucas (the show’s resident hunk and Riley’s love interest) come to the rescue. Then, later in the episode, Farkle drops the bomb.

“Guys… what they’re saying about me…it’s true.”

We wouldn’t need to dive into the mechanics of how Farkle discovered it. From where I sit, he’s known since at least the start of the series, and he’s tried to cover it up by pining for Riley and Maya.

Riley, Maya, and Lucas would naturally be a little bit shocked by Farkle’s revelation. From there, we go to Papa Corey, who talks about how it can sometimes be difficult for someone to come to terms with this kind of thing, and that lot of people have trouble accepting it. But in the end, he’s still the same Farkle he’s always been.

We close the episode with Riley, Maya, and Lucas protecting Farkle from the bullies, and Riley giving the little guy a hug. Aw heck, how about a group hug!

And that’s it. They put it out there, and they never have to touch it again if they don’t want to. The important thing is that Disney makes a statement about gay teens. And they put out a good message about Farkle’s friends accepting him for who he is.

Girl Meets World is such a great stage for this kind of thing. It’s a show with characters that millennials grew up on, and can serve to remind them of the changes they’ve brought, and can continue to bring to the world. For the kids, it’s a bold statement: If you’re gay, that’s okay. Your true friends will stand by you.

Am I hoping for too much? Maybe. Such a major change to an already-established character would be a pretty bold move for Disney.

But hey, it is 2015…

Written By: Rob Siebert

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bell to Bell: One Day Closer to the Royal Rumble

Thoughts From Raw:

We had a lot happen with Cena, Seth Rollins, and Brock Lesnar tonight, so let’s start by looking at things in chronological order…

Seth Rollins def. John Cena in a lumberjack match. Really solid, suspenseful match. Kudos to Cena for leaping off the top rope on to that assembly of wrestlers. He certainly doesn’t have to take those kind of risks, but he does anyway. I’m now of the belief that Rollins was added to the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble simply because he’s the hottest heel on the roster. Lesnar, as much of a bad ass as he is, has simply lost too much steam from being gone so long. WWE overplayed their hand with the “novely of seeing Brock” card.  He’s simply been gone too long. This could have been helped with the proper use of Paul Heyman, but I think that ship has sailed.

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman play up the end of The Undertaker’s streak in an in-ring segment. This was good. Remind us of who Brock Lesnar is, who Brock Lesnar has become, and what Brock Lesnar can do to John Cena and Seth Rollins at the Royal Rumble. The fantasy/reality picture Heyman painted was strong. Personally, while I think Seth Rollins is now the hottest heel around, Brock Lesnar should still be the man who loses the title at Wrestlemania XXXI. He’s come too far to simply drop it in two weeks.

Rollins curb stomps both Lesnar and Cena in contract signing segment. I won’t lie, seeing these guys finally mix it up did get me hyped for the match. It’s exciting to see Brock mix it up with somebody besides John Cena for the first time in almost a year. I don’t know if the match will be a show-stealer. But it’ll certainly be one to watch.

Now let’s move on. We’ve certainly got one big piece of news to talk about…

“Macho Man” Randy Savage announced for WWE Hall of Fame class of 2015. Needless to say, this is long overdue. Whatever persona differences the real-life Randy Poffo and Vince McMahon had, they obviously kept them from doing business while Randy was still alive.  It’s nice that the “Macho Man” is finally getting this well-deserved honor, but he should have been alive to see it. It’s a terrible injustice that he’s not.

Booker T. replaces Jerry Lawler at the announce desk. Lawler moved to Smackdown. Booker T. wouldn’t have been my first pick for Lawler’s job. He’s been known to butcher the English language, and say incredibly stupid things. (Case in point, his analogy about everybody dying on Gilligans Island.) I can think of a few announcers I’d much rather see in that spot, Renee Young being at the top of that list. But at least it shakes things up a bit. Meanwhile, I’m wondering what Lawler really thinks about being sent to Smackdown. Any way you slice it, it’s the B-show. But it’ll be interesting to see how Lawler does now that he’s part of a two-man announce team again.

Daniel Bryan announces his intention to win the Royal Rumble, will compete on Thursday’s Smackdown. Bringing Bryan to Smackdown is an interesting move. I suppose there’s no need for the Rumble match to be his official return. It might even get fans a little more pumped up to see him. So why not?

Roman Reigns and the Big Show are involved in the Randy Savage “Ooooooo Yeah” impersonation package. This was wrong for both of these guys. Neither of them should be funny right now. And the Big Show is in a top heel spot, so we shouldn’t be laughing at him. Hell, he came out to cut a heel promo in the very next segment! Roman Reigns should be an intimidating man of few words. Speaking of which….

The Big Show and Roman Reigns get some mic time. WWE continues to book Roman Reigns improperly, from my point of view. Having Reigns recite that be in the ring with that stupid Cena-like smile, and cut a textbook Cena-like promo, was the exact opposite of what WWE should be going for with this guy. The whole thing reeked of an out-of-touch Vince McMahon “promo class.” Why are they forcing this guy to do long, drawn out monologues? That’s clearly not his strength!

The Ascension continues to get heat for comparing themselves to Demolition and the Road Warriors. As a fan, I’m not sure what everybody got all worked up about last week when The Ascension cut that promoo on teams of the past. Does anybody think they really have beef with the Road Warriors? These guys are just trying to get themselves over. And hey, it worked didn’t it? People clearly turned on them.

Dean Ambrose takes part in “psychological evaluation.” Surprisingly, these segments were pretty painless. Though that whole “sit down to pee” line at the end, once again, reeked of McMahon humor.  

Bad News Barrett is once against cast as a heel. This is a mistake. People like the whole “I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news…” thing, and just like with Cesaro, they’re going against the grain. Why? They want to cheer for Barrett. So let them cheer!

Justin Gabriel pops up on Raw as one of the heel lumberjacks. I’m fairly certain this doesn’t mean Gabriel is a heel now. More likely it’s an illustration of how thin the roster is. But hey, at least the guy got on Raw

Written By: Rob Siebert

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014's Comic Book Time Capsule

Terrence Sage's Thoughts on 2014
Biggest Surprise: Futures End, Worlds End all leading to the Multiverse Epic that's Convergence. I thought all the Weeklies were leading to something huge but, tying in ALL the DCU Stories from the past as a Battlecity Wide Event is beyond me.

Biggest Letdown: AVENGERS & X-MEN: AXIS. I thought AXIS would be about the Red Skull fighting both A and X but, it ended up being another Hero Vs. Hero affair with a ending we could all see coming by Issue #3

Comics that need to be adapted: Lazarus (HBO or AMC) Lazarus is grounded, set in a low tech World that's perfect for the small screen.

Dumbest Comic Controversy: Whose gonna take up the mantle of Robin. Damian (no matter how much I hate the little snot wipe) still had some story to tell in Batman and Robin. I do like the fact that he has Super-Powers now, that's cool.

Best Panel: (See Secret Avengers Panel I attached) Secret Avengers Volume 3 has been hilarious and Maria Hill has been showing why she's the boss of SHIELD.

Best Line of Dialogue: "That is the WORST idea one of us X-Men has ever had! And I'm including the total existence of Adam-X in that." - Celeste from the Stepford Sisters. It's Bendis on X-Men so 80% of the dialogue is already hilarious.

Best Creative Team: Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey. Moon Knight got brought back in a MAJOR way with his Marvel NOW! Series. The Season 1 CT was a phenomenal with what they did with MK.

Favorite Comic Moment: Captain America FINALLY discovering what the Illuminati has been doing in Avengers. The big reveal of Steve discovering what Tony and friends did was a long time coming and it basically was Civil War Time Travel Redux!

Breakout Character: Ms. Marvel. I felt obligated because her first issue was cool.
Biggest Surprise: Deadly Class. I have mixed feelings on Rick Remender's writing. While I adored his run on Uncanny X-Force, his current Marvel works have been leaving me particularly cold (especially Uncanny Avengers and AXIS). I was even anticipating Remender's other Image release this year, Black Science, more. But Deadly Class's focus on character first, combined with the amazing, heartbreaking and, at times, psychedelic of Wes Craig and Lee Loughridge leaves a fascinating story from a writer with an intimate love-hate relationship with the era it takes place in.

Biggest Letdown: It has to be Constantine on NBC. I was holding out hope for the show since it was on the same network as Hannibal, which was my TV Show of the Year, but then I remembered it having the steady and bizarre hand of Bryan Fuller was what made that show. Much like my problem with Man of Steel, while I can most definitely see Matt Ryan as the titular con-artist, it was the writing that couldn't get me past three episodes. It really just reaffirms my belief that the Hellblazer really isn't meant for a broad appeal and works better in the seedier sides of things.

Best Line of Dialogue: "All of my Dungeon-Crawling fantasies are about to come true."- Maps Mizoguchi, Gotham Academy #2. Maps is fantastic. So is this book.

Best Creative Team: The creative team behind East of West, Jonathan Hickman (writer), Nick Dragotta (art), Frank Martin (color) and Rus Wooton (letters). It is my Book of 2014 and each of these creators bring their A-Game every issue.

Favorite Comic Moment: The Illuminati and S.H.I.E.L.D. finally coming to blows in New Avengers #28. Time Runs Out has been, for me, Civil War done right.

Breakout Character: Kamala Khan. No ifs, ands or buts.

Jen's Thoughts on 2014
Biggest Surprise: Guardians of the Galaxy. I figured this movie would be cool, but I didn’t expect to love it quite as much as I did! This movie was fantastic.

Biggest Letdown: The death of Beth on The Walking Dead.

Comic that needs to be adapted for TV/film: Wonder Woman; I know they are working on it, but they have been working on it for way too long. This needs to happen NOW!

Dumbest Comic Controversy of 2014: I’m sure a lot of people would disagree, but the Spider Woman cover debate was the dumbest controversy in my opinion. I am a woman and that cover in no way offended me. I, of course, want women in comics to be portrayed as smart and strong, but there is nothing wrong with them being sexy either. When I first saw that pose, all I thought was that Spider Woman looked like, well…a spider. Not to mention that most male characters in comics wear skin tight suits as well that leave little to the imagination.

Best Panel: The Talking Dead with Chris Hardwick, CM Punk and Yvette Nicole Brown. These three together are panel magic.

Best Line of Dialogue: “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know how this machine worked.” – Star Lord, Guardians of the Galaxy; followed closely by “I am Groot!” – Groot, Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Creating Team: I would have to go with an independent comic team that have produced some great work in 2014 and have lots of things lined up for 2015 – Inverse Press

Favorite Comic Moment: The Harley Quinn scratch and sniff issue. I grew up in the 80’s with scratch and sniff stickers and this brought back a lot of fond memories!

Breakout Character: I have a total woman crush on Rosalee from Grimm played by Bree Turner. This actress took a recurring role and made fans take notice, which in turn made the producers take notice. Every season her character gets stronger and becomes a more integral part of the show. She is strong, smart, funny, sweet and cool. And she’s in love with Monroe – enough said!

Rob Neumeyer's Thoughts on 2014: (Co-host of the Talking Games Podcast at Talkingcomicbooks.com)
Biggest Surprise: Valiant grabbing big talent. Lemiere? Yes please. Kindt? Thank you.

Biggest Letdown: Sandman Overture....I just wish this was on time.

Comic that needs to be adapted for TV/film: Sex Criminals - that would make a lovely family show. Saga/Nailbiter would also be acceptable.

Dumbest Comic Controversy of 2014: I focus on the positive and don't pay attention to the negative.

Winner for Best Panel. RIP SNIKT

Best Panel:  Finally he gets to sit on the sidelines. Please stay there.

Best Line of Dialogue: Saga #24. "Are you lady folk?" - a line that I will speak for the rest of my life.

Best Creating Team: Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely for Pax Americana - This was also my favorite single issue of the year. A book that can be reread over and over, finding new things each time and easily Quitely's best work to date.

Favorite Comic Moment: Captain Carrot appearance in Multiversity. I laughed and cheered at the same time.

Breakout Character: Spider-Gwen - Who could have seen this coming? Her first appearance is already selling for $40+ dollars because the demand for the issue is crazy....crazy enough to spawn her own series.

Biggest Surprise: Darkseid taking over Earth 2. For readers who have been love DC Comics’ Golden Age of comics’ heroes, Darkseid’s presence in Earth 2 has ruined the book. Earth2 for decades has been a book in which hopes and dreams were achievable and, unfortunately, the book has now been crafted to show unnecessary death and gore. The book being cheapen so much to sell more copies surprised me because I truly believed the book would once again return being a book about building a team of Wonders.

Biggest Letdown: The New Era of Batgirl. Having the New 52 introduce a Barbara Gordon who was insecure but determined to do right for Gotham and her residents, we’re now being fed stories about a young woman who is more interested in selfies and going out to parties than doing research on the people who terrorize her home city.

Comic that needs to be adapted for TV/film: Birds of Prey. If DC would commit to having a Nikita like show, there would be a great following. Geeks love watching well choreographed fight scenes and characters who interact with the real world but have double lives.

Dumbest Comic Controversy of 2014: DC’s treatment of women.
Wonder Woman seems to be emotionally unstable, Batgirl is now portrayed as a 17 year old, Batwoman wasn’t allowed to marry, and was assaulted by a vampire. Lets not forget the Huntress and Power-girl return to Earth 2 but are now less capable than in the Main Universe, and Starfire’s attire, and so many other things. DC Comics has the resources to build women in a way that could teach readers and the world to move pass sexualizing women, but the company continues to project characters that are not empowered and strong.

Best Line of Dialogue: Batgirl #35. In the first issue of Stewart's run of Batgirl, Alysia sees her old roommate off to her new apartment and tells Babs to not get hit by a fixie.

Best Creating Team: The Justice League Dark team. JM DeMatteis has written stories that help feature DC’s magical corner well and the amazing artistic talent on this book creates images that capture readers’ imaginations. Great stories and great art make the book and its team my favorite.

Favorite Comic Moment: In Batgirl #34, Gail Simone’s last issue with the iconic character, Babs asks her roommate to move away with her so that they’re both able to start anew. The sisterhood that developed between those great women was a large part of what I liked about the book and I’m glad Gail’s run had such a great ending.

Breakout Character: Tiffany Fox. The FOURTH young female to take up the mantle Batgirl, Tiffany Fox is a child genius that uses her brains to outsmart villains, while using her youth to engineer ways which are less than conventional to fight crime. While Tiffany was only seen as Batgirl in the book’s Future’s End story, I hope that Tiffany ventures into the DC Comics’ Universe soon so we can see what she’s made of.